If you’re anything like us, you love a good inspirational quote. And since you’re here we know that you want to hear from entrepreneurs who are also parents. So we’ve rounded up the most inspiring quotes from our interviews to date. Click each quote to see the article – enjoy!
Spending time with Oonagh Duncan, aka the Fit Feels Good Inc. coach, was truly uplifting and energizing. Oonagh and her husband and business partner, Dylan, welcomed us into their charming, colourful home in downtown Toronto (with a to-die-for rooftop patio view of the CN Tower) and we chatted all things fitness, business and parenting.
Tell us about your business.
I created the Fit Feels Good 28 Day Transformation, an online fitness and nutrition program. I also do keynote speaking, coaching, all with the main goal of specializing in helping women in their 40’s to get lean, strong and healthy and feel good.
What did you do before you had your business and how did you decide to start this venture?
I was an actor and then a documentary playwright, specializing in verbatim theatre, which uses first person testimony as it’s source material (so, transcripts from interviews and court cases). I picked up some fitness classes because I could teach them first thing in the morning and then again in the evening and have all day to focus on my play-writing. Then one day I had an epiphany that I was actually enjoying the fitness more than the theatre stuff. As soon as I made that switch, my career took off. They say everything happens for a reason and I really believe that.
What is your favourite part of your business and why?
My clients! I have the most hilarious, smart and supportive community that I call my MF’ers (Masters of Fitness, obvs) and I’m so grateful I get to hang out with them and watch them morph and become healthier than they ever thought they would be. After that, I have to say that doing the retreats and generally having location freedom is pretty rad – especially during Canadian winters.
If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
Richard Simmons. Barack Obama can come to the party too.
How do you carve out time for yourself?
OOO! This is one of my favourite areas of personal growth right now! We incorporate a LOT of travel in our lifestyles. I’m trying to stretch myself by scheduling outrageous amounts of time off (my family and I spent most of the winter in Mexico and we are off for an epic European trip next week) which is forcing me to be much more efficient in my business and get really focused on: 1 – What really needs to get done in order to serve our clients? 2 – What really needs to be done by ME? 3 – What is just a distraction? Like – do I really need to rebrand, or is that just my ego talking?
I’m not going to lie – these last few days before leaving for our trip feels a bit 24/7 stressful but I prefer doing ’sprints’ of intensity and then enjoying a luxurious amount of time off. It suits my personality better than a 9-5 Monday to Friday type thing.
What is your go-to dinner recipe?
Cauliflower rice with peanut tofu/chickpeas. So good, simple and family friendly! It goes something like this:
Rice-ify a head of cauliflower (just chuck a couple of florets in a blender, pulse until it looks like rice. Repeat.)
Then steam the rice with a bit of water in a pot or microwave it until tender.
In a big pan, take 1/2 cup real maple syrup, 1/2 cup Tamari sauce, 1/2 cup peanut butter and mix it up.
Sautee your chickpeas or tofu (a block of tofu or a can of chickpeas) in the sauce until it’s thickened and gloopy delicious.
At the last min, you can throw in some extra veg like spinach.
Serve the gloopy delicious over the cauliflower rice and then sit back and watch your kids ask for more. CAULIFLOWER.
How do you stay organized?
I so don’t. My assistant winces whenever she sees my desktop and my husband has fired me from most domestic tasks due to tragic ineptitude. However, I as disorganized as I am about space, I am militant about time management. We have a system of Google calendars for both business and family stuff and my team and I use Asana for project management so we can always see who is doing what – and by when.
We currently have a remote team of 4 so staying connected is a great way to stay organized – we have meetings 3 times a week to stay on track. We also employ a virtual CFO. I spend each Wednesday of every week working ON the business instead of working in the business.
Tell us about your support system – as a parent and business owner.
I have to be totally honest about this – I have Ward Cleaver levels of support as my husband is the primary child care giver and household manager. He does all the cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping. He knows when the boys need new running shoes and when it’s pajama day at school and where the immunization records are. Basically, Dylan does for me the unseen work that women have done for generations so that men could shine in their careers. It works really well for our family and our personalities but I would be a total dickhead not to acknowledge that I’ve benefited greatly from all that support. This lifestyle also gives us a ton of flexibility in our days.
For business I also have a great group of entrepreneur friends who are all passionate about what they do.
What are 3 books/magazines/resources you would recommend on parenting or entrepreneurship?
And what about your own book? Tell us about this awesome publication.
I always wanted to write a book but there was no time, or I THOUGHT I had no time. But then one of my clients called me on my bullshit and pointed out that a lot of authors are very busy and it was the first time that I saw that I was using the same ‘no time’ excuse that my clients do. We all have the same amount of time – just different habits and priorities. So she challenged me and I realized that I literally just had to go for it. So I had a writing partner, someone else that I could be accountable to. And the book, is coming out September 17th, available here for pre-order. (Go to http://www.fitfeelsgood.com/healthyaf to get all kinds of bonuses just for pre- ordering!).
How do you stay motivated?
I get up and move. So often people are trying to *think* their way out of a funk when the best thing to do is to change your state through movement. A good run or a living room dance party will solve most problems way faster than sitting in front of your computer or complaining to a friend, which is just going to reinforce your funk. Get UP. What works is to set a 55 minute timer and every time it goes off, get up and move for 5 minutes. Sitting is the new smoking. Meditative walking is something that I love to do to relax and unwind – inhale 4 steps and exhale 4 steps – and it’s easy to implement into everyday life. I also work using a treadmill desk which keeps me active when I’m on a long conference call.
What are your favourites – music, skincare, items of clothing, podcasts, places to eat, etc.?
Turn my brain off TV: The Office (US version) and the Baroness Von Sketch show.
Has parenting changed the way you run your business, or vice versa?
Creating the most extraordinary life with my kids and setting an example of unlimited possibilities for my kids is my ultimate driver. Having my kids has turned all my ‘it would be nice’ ambitions into absolute musts.
Thanks so much to Oonagh and Dylan for having us their home and sharing their lifestyle and work balance. We felt like the partnership they’ve built together works so well for them – with Dylan supporting Oonagh in her business pursuits. To learn more about Fit Feels Good, click here. To pre-order Oonagh’s book, click here.
Our perfect day includes sleeping in (pure luxury!), meeting each other for coffee at a local spot, and spending time meandering through pretty main street shops on a gorgeous summer day. We spent a near-perfect morning (it was all of the above minus the sleeping in!) at The Lemonade Stand, a gorgeous shop in Uxbridge, Ontario. Lee was so gracious in spending time with us talking about her experiences as a retail-shop owner and mother and step-mom to three girls.
We were so interested to find out that you don’t have a background in retail! Can you tell us about your career and the path that led you to The Lemonade Stand?
Before I started The Lemonade Stand I worked my way up the corporate ladder as a Human Resources Professional. I have a Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations, and started my first career-oriented job out of school as an HR Assistant. Throughout the years I worked my way up to become an HR Business Partner, and eventually started an HR Consulting Company of my own. In my “other” time, I worked towards my goal of owning a creative business full-time.
What is The Lemonade Stand?
The Lemonade Stand is a creative vintage studio that was started as a part-time venture back in 2014. I originally started painting by stumbling upon a dresser in a Style at Home magazine. It was a gorgeous yellow colour, and I had to have this colour in my house. The colour was called Mustard Yellow, by Miss Mustard Seed. I started reading the Miss Mustard Seed blog and got very inspired! I painted a sideboard in the yellow, and kept on painting different items in my house. I took some classes and got some great guidance from other women entrepreneurs in the same industry.
Things have evolved since that time. In early 2016 I left my full-time corporate job as a Human Resources Business Partner to pursue The Lemonade Stand full-time. A big part of my business is handmade signs and workshops. In Fall 2018, my husband and I opened up a brick and mortar in beautiful downtown Uxbridge – 26 Brock St. W. It has been a dream come true, and I am constantly growing, learning and evolving.
What’s your favourite part of running The Lemonade Stand?
The favourite part of my work is the creative aspect. In particular, I love using the Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (MMSMP) on items and seeing how it reacts to each piece. I have been very passionate about MMSMP since I started using it 6 years ago. It was an essential component to my store and branding. It does things that no other paint can do. I love to start with a piece and see the different effects that I can get with this paint. I also love that I have flexibility as a business owner to open my shop at 10am, meaning I get valuable time with my daughters in the morning and am able to do the school drop offs.
Walk us through your typical day.
A typical day starts in the morning when I am at home. I take some time to identify how I am going to spend my day and write it out in my planner. Once I get into the studio, I start with studio maintenance, paperwork and responding to emails. I then spend the rest of my day running the store and either making signs or painting furniture (this creative part is the most fun). It is always a bit of a juggling act as things always pop up in the day that we did not plan for…but that is part of the fun!
How do you make sure to get family time?
The way I carve out family time is by planning things out in quarters. My business has a couple of different revenue streams, including workshops. I always plan the workshops in quarters, so I know exactly what I will be doing and when. This gives me the flexibility to choose the evenings I want off and plan around special events. When I am at home, I try and only do a maximum of one hour of work. After dinner, the rest of the evening is dedicated to family. I also choose to close the store on Sundays so that I am able to devote one full day to my family each week. Work-family balance is so important, and I think you need to set some real boundaries around when you are working and when you aren’t. Sunday is my family day, so I make it a rule for myself not to do any work at all on Sundays. Everybody has a different measure of success and for me, a part of the success is being able to find a balance between work and family life.
Do you have people that inspire you?
There are many women entrepreneurs that inspire me, but I would have to say that Melanie from Mango Reclaimed is a constant inspiration for me. I met Melanie years ago when I was a customer of hers. I have watched her grow her business each year, and have learned from her knowledge and positive attitude. That girl is a rock, and I look up to her and am very grateful for her friendship and mentoring. Not only does she have the creative mind, but she has such a great business sense as well. And she is always smiling!!!
What’s your relationship with social media?
Instagram has been great for my business – whether that’s been through sharing store tours, featuring new items, highlighting the workshops – it’s been key to the success of the brand. Since we are a destination store, it’s allowed me to reach a wide range of audiences. I also have found it so great for sourcing new items for the store. We’ve also participated in the Digital Main Street program and with that have been able to put some money into ads online which have gotten a great response.
There can be a downside to the social media world. The concept of community over competition hasn’t rung true for me unfortunately and I’ve experienced forms of exclusion via social media. It’s interesting to see how some people portray themselves online vs. how they actually are in real life!
When you’re going through rough patches, how do you stay motivated throughout your retail journey?
I stay motivated by surrounding myself with a “girl gang”. I have a small group of women friends who have very similar businesses to mine. They help to lift me up, offer great advice, and keep me going when needed. I also belong to a coaching group. This is a very specific group of creative entrepreneurs, all owning retail shops. I can ask questions at any time, and look for guidance from this group. It works through a private Facebook group and its great to bounce things off each other and get ideas. Our coach also provides us with training and a lot of information that applies specifically to our businesses. I think it is so important to surround yourself with positive people that are there to encourage you along the way. There are going to be bumps along the way…it is all about how we handle those bumps. For me, finding these special up-lifting people has been so important.
Everywhere we looked there were beautiful gift items and treats throughout the carefully merchandised space. The Lemonade Stand truly made us feel like we were on a treasure hunt, and Lee has done a great job with layering items so that you feel like you’re rummaging through your most stylish friend’s house! To visit Lee at her shop, check here. Don’t forget she runs the coolest home decor workshops, which you can check out here. And be sure to follow her on Instagram here.
Having a child is hard. Having more than one? Difficult. But having SEVEN? That’s like next, NEXT level. Not only is Lisa Canning parenting seven children, she’s also been a successful entrepreneur for the last few years. We’ve been following Lisa since her days at HGTV and knew we had to chat with her for XO Project to share all the deets on how she manages everything. Lisa welcomed us into her gorgeous space (#views) and we immediately felt at home – this girl personifies warmth! Three of her seven kids were with us during the interview and she calmly navigated through it all like the bad ass that she is.
What did you do before you had your business?
For the last ten years I have run an interior design business (I got my start on an HGTV show if you can believe it), and more recently I’ve pivoted my business to helping moms design their lives through online coaching programs and online courses. When I was an interior designer, I had no degree or background when I started and a big chip on my shoulder feeling like I really had to prove myself. I was struggling with life—taking anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months of maternity leave with each child and feeling the constant pressure to work as much as I could to maintain what I thought was success at the time. But with each goal I reached, I felt like the happiness was fleeting. So I knew that I had to move on from this period and rediscover what my true purpose was.
That brings us to what you’re doing now. How did it come to life?
My new business in mom-coaching came out of a period of time where I was epically failing at work-life balance. I was working around the clock and I was so time strapped. I never saw my children and was just falling apart trying to juggle it all. It all came to a crushing implosion when I had, just seven days out of hospital with my fourth baby in five years, convinced myself that I needed to go into work at a messy construction site. That was the day I realized my priorities were so messy, and something had to change! From that point on I become obsessed with the pursuit of work-life balance and finding a new way to measure success in my life. The common thread that I found with everything I was passionate about led to motherhood and a desire to help other moms.
Let’s talk about work-life balance for a bit. Clearly you have a lot on your plate, and yet you’ve found a way to ‘balance’ it all.
I think the concept of balance is very misleading, because it’s assuming that there is equality across all areas of life. It’s never going to be a 50/50 split of energy and effort. Moms put a lot of pressure on ourselves about this and it’s something that means a lot to me. I’ve found a way and a process to work through all of this that’s led me to living my ideal life.
Your book has just launched and we are super excited about digging deep into it. Can you tell us about the book writing process?
I was seven month pregnant with one of my kids and was invited to a dinner with a book publisher. I had no desire at that time to write a book— but a colleague of mine really felt there was a story to be told. I signed the contract November 9th, 2016 and then had 2 babies while writing it! I was really stuck in a rut at one point, and then I attended a talk called Mind Your Business. When the speaker said “perfection is a shield from criticism“— wow that just really hit home. I knew that was what was holding me back from finishing the book. I literally sat there in the conference centre and finished the book that day! It resonated with me so much that I was never going to be satisfied and that I could literally spend forever refining the book, but to just move forward with it.
That is a great quote. What other advice have you received that really resonated with you?
To “fail faster.” I absolutely love this quote. The faster you fail, the faster you grow. It is a huge paradigm shift for a recovering perfectionist like me.
Do you have a mentor?
I have several! I am currently in a high level coaching program with a marketing expert named Ryan Levesque. I have a few moms ahead of me by a few years on the journey who are a source of support as well.
What is your favourite part of your business and why?
I love to speak hope into moms. It is such a challenging time today where so many messages are being thrown at us as moms—be hot, and be fit, and crush it at work, and have perfect kids, and go on a regular date night, and take a great instagram photo. This pursuit of “all the things” can be exhausting. I am all for moms designing success for themselves and not for anyone else.
With all the different content you’re putting out – what is resonating the most with your audience?
The content that’s the most engaging is anything I share around depression and marriage. If I can do my part in helping couples realize that mental illness doesn’t define a marriage and that you can have a successful partnership that includes mental health challenges, then I’m happy to share this intimate content in an authentic way.
Having said that, what do you think about the pressure social media can put on parents/entrepreneurs?
Naturally we put pressure on ourselves and Instagram and social media takes that up a few notches. What people have to understand is there are a myriad of things happening behind the scenes and in the background that bring that ‘perfect’ image to life. It’s a false reality and while it can be great for building community, we each have to be aware of the information we’re taking in and to take it with a grain of salt.
Do you think the benefits of digital media outweigh the potential downfalls?
Having been involved in traditional media, both in front of and behind the camera, I can say that there is nothing like the speed of information being passed and the connection you can get with your audience through digital media.
What’s your typical day like?
Typical morning routine is waking up before my kids to pray and exercise, and then begins the regular routine of breakfast, packing lunches, last minute homework help etc. After school is precious time to me. We eat dinner early as a family (as soon as they come home from school – because I found if I served a snack when they all came home, no one is eating the beautiful meal I made!), we have a nightly ritual of saying some prayers as a family after we eat, and then we break either for play time, TV, or for kids in activities we divide and kids go and do their independent activities. Between the hours of 4 and 5:30pm, my phone is away and I am spending aimless time with my children.
Let’s talk self care. How do you carve out time for yourself?
I schedule it. I fight for it. I set recurring appointments in my calendar and I show up for them like I would anything else I make a priority.
How do you stay organized?
Intention behind everything. I prioritize the important things in my life, and those things get captured in my calendar. I find that if they are not scheduled, things can really easily get missed.
Describe your childcare situation.
We have had childcare in all shapes and forms, from very full time, to very part time, to my husband being home primarily, to me being home primarily. Currently, we have a wonderful live in full-time nanny who assists us in running our home successfully.
What are the challenges you face as a parent and entrepreneur?
Being afraid but doing it anyways. I am in a season of my business where we are taking a lot of risk—there are new things I am doing that I have never felt success in doing before. But what I have learned from my mentors is to move forward even though you might be afraid, and always keep this in mind: “You either get the result that you wanted, or the lesson that you needed.” – James Wedmore.
Has parenting changed the way you run your business, or vice versa?
I would say parenting has changed the way I run my business, for the better. I now do more in less time and I value REST and aimless time with my family in a huge way. A part of the reason why I wrote The Possibility Mom is to share the processes I use that help me maximize my time. Success looks different for everyone and that’s a big part of the message I’m trying to share.
Let’s leave off on the one message you want to share with other parents who are entrepreneurs.
You need to fuel you passions and your dreams – but not at the expense of your family. One of my goals is to provide a framework for how to chase your dreams but to keep your family priorities in mind.
Lisa is as close to superwoman as we’ll probably get in real life. Not only has she cracked the code for how to live her ideal life, but she’s happy to share that information with the rest of us. One of her goals is to help 100,000 women in 5 years – be it through her book, online program or workshops. What works for one may not work for all, but it’s absolutely definitely inspiring to learn about this process and hear Lisa’s story. To buy The Possibility Mom, click here. To visit her website and learn more about her work, click here.